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A CRM might be right for you if you’re a small business struggling to keep up with communicating with your customers regularly across multiple channels like email, newsletters, phone calls, and social media.
In this article, we will cover what CRM software is, as well as some of the best options available.
What is CRM Software?
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is designed to help you organize your contacts and glean insights from interactions with prospects and customers.
CRM software stores contact information but it’s more than just a digital address book. They can be used for things like managing notes on client interactions and linking to contracts.
Some apps come with scheduling features that track your communication with prospective clients and remind you when follow-ups are due. Others, give you visual indicators of which leads are ‘hot’ and which prospects you should focus on next.
CRM software is also useful for facilitating cross-department communication. For example, they can be used to make sure that sales, marketing, and customer success teams are all on the same page regarding a specific client.
What is the Best CRM For My Small Business?
The right CRM for your small business depends on a few factors, like the size of your staff, the industry you’re in, and your budget.
While this can be overwhelming at the start, having a wide variety of choices means that it’s likely you’ll find an option that fits your needs at a price point that you can afford.
In a rush? Here are some quick suggestions on CRMs to consider.
If you need a CRM that is:
- Fast to set up and intuitive — consider PipeDrive, Less Annoying CRM, or Monday.com.
- Based on Gmail — try Copper, Propeller, or Streak.
- Easy to use and includes marketing automation — consider HubSpot CRM, Zoho CRM, Capsule, Insightly or Hatchbuck.
- Has a visual task manager that tells you exactly what to work on next — try PipeDrive.
- Easy to use and includes help desk features — explore vTiger or Zendesk Duet. (Zendesk Duet is a package that combines Zendesk Sell CRM with Zendesk Support, which is their help desk software).
- An enterprise solution — consider Microsoft Dynamics 365, Salesforce, or Netsuite.
Marketing Automation and CRMs
For those seeking to combine a CRM with marketing automation, here are a few tips.
- HubSpot offers a free CRM that integrates with its marketing suite. The suite starts at $50/month. See our review to find out more.
- PipeDrive, Insightly, and Salesforce integrate with Autopilot’s easy-to-use marketing automation software. And Autopilot provides a lead scoring function.
26 Top CRM Systems
Below we cover a selection of the best CRMs available to small businesses.
Hubspot offers a free CRM that allows you to manage up to 1 million contacts. You can see everything about a contact in one place, automatically track activity no matter where it occurs, chat with prospects using the built-in communication tools, and monitor every aspect of your sales funnel.
Salesforce is the king of CRM, but the company’s large platform can be overwhelming.
Small business owners may want to explore Salesforce Essentials, which offers easy setup, the ability to store all customer details in one location, and automatic data capture, so you don’t have to enter notes on client interactions manually.
Zoho CRM is for those who find CRM software confusing. Zoho CRM features easy setup, migration from spreadsheets and other CRM tools, and automation features.
SugarCRM provides a flexible, affordable CRM that combines sales, marketing, and customer service automation in one package. The self-hosted version is popular because it’s provided for free on many hosting packages as a one-click install.
The goal of PipeDrive is to help you increase sales by tracking qualified leads garnered via chatbots and web forms. You can monitor your sales pipeline and automatically tracking all calls and emails you make.
With its easy-to-follow visual display, PipeDrive tells you exactly which prospects you should be working on next.
Freshsales is a CRM that uses AI-based scoring to help you determine the most useful things you’re doing to reach out to your customers.
Dynamics 365 from Microsoft offers a sleek interface that allows you to collect customer information, monitor communications, and generate advanced dashboards for your reports.
Insightly is a CRM featuring pre-built dashboards and workflow automation for things like follow-up emails. It also helps you discover connections and relationships based on the data you’ve stored and track deals that are in progress.
Zendesk Sell (formerly Base CRM) features automation that would be of interest to those in sales. With Zendesk Sell, you can track communications and prioritize contact with those most likely to make a purchase.
Apptivo occupies a slightly different niche than many others on this list. Apptivo generates embeddable forms for your website. When customers use these forms to provide information, it creates a record identifying them as a lead.
You can then track leads using the app.
Less Annoying CRM
Less Annoying CRM bills itself as a simple, affordable CRM designed for small businesses to manage their contacts, track their leads, and schedule and stay on top of any follow-ups needed.
Nimble is a CRM that integrates and works inside your Office 365 or G Suite inbox. Once installed, Nimble tracks your contacts and their information, gathers information about prospects via social media and other data, and allows you to create lists of prioritized contacts.
Capsule is an easy-to-use, simple CRM that nevertheless features contact tracking, pipeline management, and reporting functionality. Capsule also comes with robust task management features and automation tools.
vTiger strives to unify communication between sales, marketing, and technical support. Unlike other CRMs, which typically track the pre-sales phase, vTiger offers features that are useful even after the client converts and makes a purchase.
Monday.com offers a highly visual CRM in the form of a to-do list. You can use it to track leads and manage projects. Like PipeDrive, it’s very easy to use.
NetSuite from Oracle is a cloud-based solution that allows you to track the entire customer lifestyle, right through to support.
Nextiva facilitates easy communication with your customers across multiple channels. Rather than using a collection of individual tools, you can managed everything from Nextiva’s dashboard.
PipelineDeals offers easy to use account management, pipeline management, and reporting for those seeking a more straightforward CRM solution.
ActiveCampaign is a sales-oriented option that features an easy-to-use dashboard.
Hatchbuck bundles together CRM, sales, and marketing tools, with emphasis on automation workflows for all these areas.
Mailchimp CRM is a simpler CRM that allows you to collect contact data and segment your users the way you would for email automation. You’ll get data and analytics tools, which you can use to set up automated messaging.
Bullhorn is a more niche offering for those in staffing and recruiting, but small businesses might still find its relationship management tools useful.
CRMs Designed for Gmail and G Suite
The following three CRM options are easy to use and designed to work within G Suite and Gmail. Each comes with a Chrome extension.
Copper is a CRM that can be set up and integrated into G Suite in just a couple of minutes. It automatically captures and connects all of your data. You then work within Gmail. The CRM integrates with Google Docs, Hangouts, and Sheets as well.
Streak allows you to manage contacts (either leads or current customers) and keep your sales pipeline moving within your Gmail inbox. Like Copper, Streak takes advantage of the functionality offered by Google Sheets, Hangouts, and more.
Propeller extends Gmail and allows you to automate sales emails, set up prospecting campaigns, visualize your pipeline, generate reports, and more.
CRM Software Comparison Table
Note: Dynamics 365 and Netsuite are oriented more towards medium-to-large-sized businesses. Both offer a number of apps you can add on to your base CRM. These apps — like Microsoft Relationship Sales (an integration with LinkedIn Sales Navigator) — come at an additional cost.
|CRM||Plans start at||Pricing notes|
|HubSpot CRM||Free||Unlimited users|
|Streak (Gmail-based)||Free||1 user|
|Mailchimp CRM||Free||1 user|
|Less Annoying CRM||$10/mo||per user|
|Zoho CRM||$12/mo||per user|
|Zendesk Sell||$19/mo||per user|
|Copper (Gmail-based)||$19/mo||3 users|
|Keap (formerly InfusionSoft)||$24/mo||per user|
|Salesforce Essentials||$25/mo||for 10 users|
|Propeller (Gmail-based)||$29/mo||per user|
|Monday.com||$39/mo||for 5 users|
|SugarCRM||$45/mo||for 5 users|
|Dynamics 365||$115/mo||per user|
|Bullhorn||Contact co. for pricing|
If you’re a small business owner struggling to keep up with your customers, a CRM might be the key to helping you manage your relationships. There are a variety of options available — some are feature-rich, enterprise-grade options, but there are also simple, easy-to-use options designed to be set up in just a few minutes.
In this article, we covered some of the best CRM options available to jump-start your search for the best option for you. Looking for more small business tips? Visit the Digital Blog now!